Study notes

Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum of Leadership

  • Levels: AS, A Level
  • Exam boards: AQA, OCR, IB

Tannenbaum and Schmidt devised their continuum that illustrates a range of potential leadership and management styles.

Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum of Leadership

The Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum recognises that the chosen leadership style depends on a variety of factors, including the leader's personality, the perceived qualities of subordinates.

It also allows for "situational" factors such as the need for urgency in leadership and decision-making.

The continuum represents a range of action related to the:

– Degree of authority used by the leader or manager

– Area of freedom available to non-managers

Four main styles of leadership are identified in the Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum of Leadership:


Leader identifies problems, makes decision and announces to subordinates; expects implementation


Leader still makes decision, but attempts to overcome resistance through discussion & persuasion


Leader identifies problem and presents it to the group. Listens to advice and suggestions before making a decision


Leader defines the problem and passes on the solving & decision-making to the group (which manager is part of)


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